This scavenger is a North American black bear.
Although these large creatures once roamed most of the United States, today they are found primarily throughout Canada and along the Canadian border states in the U.S. Black bears are still seen in remote areas of the south and southeast, in places like the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee and as far south as Florida. Black bears are primarily vegetarian, and they'll spend hours upon hours looking for food.
When Teddy Roosevelt was President, he earned yet another interesting distinction as a great hunter. It was during one of his many hunting trips that he ultimately spared the life of a young bear cub. When the toy companies heard of this story, they introduced the very first "teddy bears" to the marketplace. Many a child's favorite companion today remains the cuddly likeness of the beautiful black bear.
Bears can run up to 30 miles per hour, are great climbers, love berries, fish, and leafy plants. In captivity, black bears can live up to 35 years of age. Though not generally considered aggressive towards people, those protecting their young or the sick or injured have been known to attack.
The small female bear (top right photo), named Betsy (also known by some as "Wrigley") arrived at Black Pine in early June 2009. She was ordered removed by officials with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife twice before finding permanent refuge at Black Pine.
Her first owner used to tie her up on a very short chain to a post and allow people to pay to bring in their dogs to train them how to hunt bear. As a result she suffered a lot of abuse and carries with her many scars on her muzzle, a badly healed broken foot, partial blindness, and many missing and broken teeth. This illegal activity was finally stopped and the bear was relocated to another private owner. Just two years later the bear was suffering from inadequate care again and had to be removed. This time officials asked Black Pine to take her knowing the bear would (finally) be given the proper care she deserves.
Ben joined the Black Pine family in April 2010. He is a retired member of The Great American Frontier Show, a family-operated educational program that has been seen by thousands of visitors to state fairs throughout the east coast. He and two cougars (Johnny and Joey) were provided permanent refuge when the show's owners were facing some financial and health-related challenges and wanted to ensure their animals received the best care possible.
During summer 2011, Black Pine adopted three more bears named Taz (top left), Tasha, and Trouble (below left). These animals were among many living at a facility in Indiana that, due to the owner's health problems and financial challenges, closed in 2009. The bears were all previously kept as "pets". Bears are among the most common species displaced within the exotic pet trade due to their size, the danger they pose, and costs of care.
When the state of Ohio adopted new laws in 2012 regulating the private ownership of exotic animals, and banning the future acquisition of more animals by private owners, many found themselves at a crossroads. The new standards of care, costs of micro-chipping, and registration fees, meant for some finding alternative homes for their animals. Such was the case for "Mamie", a 22-year-old black bear that had been kept in a small corn crib for the majority of her life. Living in this tiny space in the backyard of private residence in Ripley, OH, she and her late mate, "Sid", drew the attention of thousands of visitors to the area, and animal welfare groups, because of their close proximity to a national historic site known as the Rankin House, a stop along the Underground Railroad used in the late 1800's. Visitors could see the bears and after many complaints, PeTA and other animal welfare groups called for action to move the bears. In the end, only the death of Sid due to a belly tumor and the risings costs associated with keeping Mamie brought her to Black Pine for the REST of her life. She arrived in February 2013.
InfoBox - Black Bear
Diet in wild: Scavenger, eating plant life, insects and fish.
Life span in wild: 20 to 30 years.
Weight: Males up to 425 pounds; females over 200 pounds.
Native habitat: Scattered throughout North America, including Canada, northern and southeastern U.S.